Derrick Foster Reviews 3-Man RB Rotation, Discusses Recruiting Position

December 17, 2018

Written by Rob Howe

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa entered the season planning to use a three-man running back rotation. For the most part, the coaches stuck to it.

The setup produced inconsistency and it was hampered by projected starter, Ivory Kelly-Martin, battling injuries all season. Things did end on a high note, however.

Mekhi Sargent, who joined the team in June from Iowa Western Community College, became the first back to rush for 100 yards in a game this season when he did so Nov. 17 at Illinois. He did the same thing the following week against Nebraska.

“It’s tough because you never want to take something away from a player if he’s hot. You always kind of want to feed the hot guy. Sometimes we might not have gotten on the roll we wanted to get on early on and then you had to get another back in there,” position coach Derrick Foster said Monday here at the football performance center.

The timeshare tilted Sargent’s way during the final two weeks. He logged 43 of his 152 carries this season in those contests. Young carried 32 times and Kelly-Martin missed those games with injury.

The trio of sophomores gained valuable experience after coming into the season without having taken many meaningful snaps. The coaches learned what each guy could do and how to weave them together.

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“We’re only a hair away or a guy away from breaking a bigger run. Those are things that are starting to come along. They’ll be juniors next year and I look for those guys to take that next step forward so we can break those next-level tackles and get more yards after contact,” Foster said.

Sargent averaged a team-best 62.3 yards per game and 4.9 a carry. Young was at 52.5 and 4.7, while Kelly-Martin checked in at 42.6 and 3.7.

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“Those guys are not selfish and they support each other,” Foster said. “Over the year I think they all have gotten progressively better at something.”

Kelly-Martin is healthy again, so all three backs are practicing now for the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl against Mississippi State.

Foster also talked Monday about the development of his true freshmen running backs, Henry Geil and Samson Evans, what he looks for when recruiting running backs and more.

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Watch what he had to say in this HN TV video:

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